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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mt Pinatubo Trekking and Its Wonders

It has been a long time coming. We had always planned of seeing Mt Pinatubo up close. We were just taken aback because it is quite expensive for a day trip. Php 2000+ just for a day can already be a 3D2N getaway somewhere else. So when we saw a deal in one of the discount coupon websites (okay let’s name it - Ensogo) for only Php 999, we immediately grabbed it. But then, it seemed like a worse decision. Their partner Trekpros (who didn't act like they're "pros") was a treacherous con. After you purchased their deal, you'll be informed of all the other charges you have to pay which was not clearly explained in the voucher. At the end, you’ll just end up saving like a hundred bucks. Crap. Define misleading. Tip for other adventurers out there, NEVER be fooled by the offers you see in discount coupon websites!

We were so disappointed but we had to go on with this, since we already paid for it. We initially booked for the month of March but it was canceled due to heavy rains. All tours for that weekend were canceled for safety reasons. We already had other things scheduled for April so we opted to reschedule for May. I was actually getting stressed out on this trip because Trekpros were blatantly trying to rip us off! Good thing we have the presence of mind not to let them trick us anymore of more additional charges.

We almost didn’t sleep the night before the tour. Departure time was 3:00 am and we still have to register at 2:30. The meeting place was in Victory Liner Cubao Station. There we decided to just join them going to the jump-off point, then just commute back to Manila. We won’t let them extort anymore money from us! We just slept in the van on our way to Capas, Tarlac. When I woke up, we’re in Tarlac already.

Sta Juliana trek jump-off

Good Morning Tarlac :)

We arrived in Sta. Juliana at around 5:30 am. The others who availed of their insanely overpriced food package, had their breakfast at the only restaurant there while we just munched on our own baon. We were there until like 7:00 am. We noticed that all the other groups were starting to disappear and we are the only ones who were left. I don’t understand what’s taking those tour coordinators too long to get us a 4x4! How incompetent. After an hour and a half, we were finally designated to our 4x4 and a tour guide.

finally ready to go

It was a very rough ride. But the views are breathtaking. I so wanted to take photos while trailing the rockies but we were assigned to an enclosed 4x4. I can’t get a nice view inside the vehicle. Well, the good thing about that was we were dry and dirt free as the road is too dusty and has water streams along the way.

the real rocky road :)

After thirty minutes or so, we stopped for some picture taking. Everyone stops at this point, basically to take photos of the landscape.

fantastic landscapes brought about by the eruption

a roofless 4x4 - gusto ko lang i-feel :)

I spotted some Aeta (Pinatubo local) children in the area. I wanted to take photos of them. So I asked our guide if that’s okay to do that and he said yes. He accompanied me to them. I gave them our remaining snacks. The sparkle in their eyes and their genuine smiles when they accepted it made me so happy. That moment was just priceless.

my aeta friends :)

We went on to the final trail after that. In another thirty minutes, we reached the trekking jump-off point. Our 4x4 mates were three youngsters belonging to a huge group (barkada). They decided to wait for the rest of their friends before trekking, so we went ahead with our guide. 2 is to 1, great!

getting ready to trek

Our guide was Kuya Rowell. He was a good guide. Even in easy trails, he was always there to guide me and make sure that I’m safe. I did not let him carry my backpack simply because I can. We learned that they’re just getting Php 200 a day for guiding a group (usually 5 pax per 4x4). That’s per tour not per person. He also told me stories about Pinatubo and how their lives were like.

lez gow! :)

The trek was not what I expected. I thought it’s going to be easier than what it turned out to be. Some said it was an easy one. But I guess it depends on how physically fit you are. Yes, the trail is not uphill but it was rocky. The unforgiving sun didn’t help as well. You wouldn’t want to stop hoping that it will soon end.

clear sunny skies on the first half of our trek

The hike is taxing even though it's just literally walking. For three hours, we felt like we’re wandering in the middle of nowhere forever.

are we ever gonna reach the crater? :)

The line that I heard the most during the trek was “are we there yet?” It was a weekend, so I think there were hundreds of us trekking that day.

see? hundreds, i tell you :)

It wasn't a rewarding one for me. The first 2 hours of the trek was sunny but it started to drizzle as we get closer to crater.

the sulfuric waters implied that we were getting nearer

lush vegetation, malapit na talaga!

My dream of seeing the turquoise lake under clear blue skies was shattered when it turned really cloudy when we reached the crater. I was a little disheartened. Anyway, I still appreciated the beauty of Pinatubo but it wasn't as striking as what I expect it to be because of the gloomy skies.

pinatubo at first sight

We were starving when we get to the crater. After taking a few photos, we settled to a nice spot (which I chose) and prepared our lunch at once.

not everyday you got this view on your lunch :)

life as i know it :)

The breaded pork chops and the fried chicken tasted extra yummy because I'm exhausted and famished. Haha!

Right after we finished our meal, it began to rain – big time. Nope, we’re not going to let this dampen our spirits. We won’t keep ourselves under a roof and stay dry.

lake here we come!

Have you heard about the quote, “Don’t wait for the storm to pass, learn how to dance in the rain”? That was exactly what we did. We just asked our guide to look after our stuff and off we went down to the crater lake like maniacs.

weee! :)

 Lake swimming under the rain was awesome!

soaking wet ;)

It was getting colder as we stayed longer in the lake. The people were also starting to get lesser and lesser. We probably enjoyed it too much, that we forgot about the time.When we went up only a few groups were left. They already trekked back. Uh oh… we should be trekking back too.

Okay, my final photo before we left.

happy to finally be with you :)

The trek back was much easier. It is no longer sunny. We only had few stops. We were back to the jump-off in an hour. We took a bath and changed clothes at the Barangay Hall nearby. Only for Php 15, unlike the restaurant that charges 100! We thanked Rowell for being such a good guide. We treated him for a snack (hamburger) and gave him our "tip" of gratitude. Again we felt happy that we helped someone and made him happy. We commuted on our way back to Manila.

For me, you should see Mount Pinatubo at least once in your life. Considering the challenges you have to go through, you are not assured of what you're going to see when you get there. There is nothing to regret though ,if you don't see her as beautifully as she should be on clear skies. She is worth it. :)

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